55 maintenance workers sacked by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) have been reinstated, ending a 180-day dispute. Midway through last year CUB sacked its maintenance staff at their Abbotsford plant only to offer them their jobs back with a 65% pay cut.
The fitters and electricians have now been reinstated on their original pay rates, although some concessions were agreed. Some of the workers have accepted roster changes and moved onto rotating shifts.
Throughout the dispute a lot of support was given to the workers. The unions called for a boycott of all CUB products and rallies in support of the workers brought over 10,000 people to the streets on one day alone.
While the reinstatement of the workers is to be welcomed, it is possible that the dispute could have been ended much sooner if actions in addition to the boycott were organised.
For example, a mass picket at the Abbotsford plant could have stopped production entirely. In addition, solidarity strikes at the CUB plant in Queensland, or at other companies connected to the supply chain, would have also put the company under immense pressure.
The boycott campaign, and the money raised, highlighted the sympathy that existed for the workers. It was reported that over $1 million was raised for the workers fighting fund! There is no doubt that the thousands of people that donated and boycotted CUB products would have been prepared to go further and participate in direct action.
For now, the CUB workers are back at work but it is only a matter of time before some other greedy boss tries to slash workers’ wages. We should learn the lessons of the CUB dispute to ensure that we are prepared to combat attacks like this in the future.
By Corey Snoek